Last summer, René Boudreau told The Coast why she started Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia, a business all about promoting experiences for Black Nova Scotians through travel. Since then, she tells us now, it’s only grown.
“There’s gaps in terms of the representation and cultural awareness that yes—there are Black people in Nova Scotia and we’ve been here for over 400 years. We have a rich culture and history,” Boudreau says. “A lot of people have been inspired by just seeing themselves out enjoying the province, which you don’t really see often.”
Next up, through a partnership with Chelsea Hanoun, founder of eco-tourism company Settled Nomads, Boudreau will be creating self-guided itineraries to take participants on a tour through the history, cuisine and business community of African Nova Scotians.
“People can go out and like their own bubbles, and at their own time at their own pace. It just provides people with more flexibility,” Hanoun says. “So you could do a day trip, but if you wanted to do like a long weekend, you can connect the itineraries to make a longer trip.”
The itineraries are still being developed, but to give you an idea how it works, Boudreau gave The Coast some examples of how you can immerse yourself in and support the Black community during February’s African Heritage Month—and all year round.
“It’s important that we are shown in a positive light, not always shown when it comes to talking about racism or slavery,” says Boudreau. “But also showcased in a way where we’re just living, having fun and doing activities.”
Mix and match the activities below to create your itinerary.
Black Cultural Centre
With its own lineup of events for the month, as well as the regular museum exhibits and an online virtual museum for those who can’t make it in person, the province’s foremost museum on Black history will teach you something new, whether you’re an expert on Black Loyalists or just learned about Viola Desmond.
10 Cherrybrook Road, Cherrybrook, admission $6
While the museum is closed for in-person visits, you can take a trip to the northernmost end of the Halifax peninsula for a walk around the historic township. Stop to read the signs and learn some history, enjoy a unique view of the harbour and check out the George Dixon memorial painting. Plus you can check out the inside of the museum via a virtual tour online.
5795 Africville Road
Black Loyalist Heritage Centre
The site of one of the largest free Black settlements of the 1700s, Birchtown is comprised of an old schoolhouse, church, an archaeological pit and several walking trails. You can book a museum tour in advance, or visit the outdoor portions of the site to get a sense of what the settlement was like 300 years ago.
119 Old Birchtown Road, Shelburne, admission $9.20
Fire and Desire Candle Company
You’ll fall in love with the scents and names of these locally made soy candles, including “Return of the Mack,” “Shorty You Swing My Way” and “Issa Vibe.”
Carlette’s Pop Up Shop
The cakes, chocolates and chocolate-dipped strawberries from Carlette’s are perfect for parties, a belated Valentine’s day or just treating yourself after a long pandemic winter.
You can’t get fresher than a menu special that changes daily. R&B’s home-style Caribbean and soul food meals with dishes like oxtail, jerk chicken and BBQ ribs will have your mouth watering.
760 Main Street
Mary’s African Cuisine
If you've never been to Mary’s, you’re missing out. Food inspired by her mother and grandmother on the West African coast has now made its way to Halifax, like chicken yassa, goat light soup and eggplant stew. marysafricancuisine.com
1701 Barrington Street
Brawta Jamaican Jerk Joint
Brawta has found a following in downtown Halifax, dishing up jerk everything—from pork to chicken to tofu—and sides like fried plantain and ackee.
1567 Grafton Street
For more events happening during African Heritage Month, check out The Coast’s African Heritage Month calendar.